WIP Wednesday

For months now, I have seen this title on blogs that I frequent and wondered what in the heck WIP stood for. It couldn't possibly be the acronym I have used so often in my previous life. You see, back in the days when I worked for the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, we had something called the WIP Project: Women In Prison Project.

One of the main pieces of this project was to work with women who were identified as having been incarcerated due to killing a violent intimate partner. We visited with these women, we cried with them, we heard their stories. We submitted pardon packets to the former governor and some of them were released. Four were not.

I think the hardest part of leaving my full time position at KDVA was knowing that I would not be able to see those four women until they are released from prison. I have no idea when that will happen. Visiting the women's prisons in Kentucky was my least favorite part of my job. I hated the sick feeling I got when we pulled into the parking lots. I hated the sounds of the heavy metal barred doors closing and clinking behind us every time we entered a new space. I hated the way the guards looked at all of us, leaving us terrified that we might do or say something that could get the women we were trying to serve in trouble.

As much as I wanted to get the hell out of there as fast as I possbily could, every time, when our visit was over and we had to say our good-bye's and leave these women that we desperately wanted to see free, I had to fight back the tears and wish so much that I didn't have to walk away. But walk away, we did. We walked away from unbelievably courageous mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and friends. We walked away from women who have known unspeakable horrors and miraculously lived to tell their stories. We walked away to go back to our offices and do all that we could to ensure that somehow they would one day see the light of justice shine on them. 

These thoughts continue to haunt me as I stay home with my girl, having left that work behind. I am haunted by their eyes, their hearts, their stories. I am haunted by the questions they asked me about my daughter, as if she were their own blood and the smiles that stories and pictures of her put on their faces. I am haunted by the fact that I left that work undone and that they still sit in prison cells, praying for help and for mercy.

After digging around, I discovered that the WIP Wednesday my fellow bloggers write about stands for Work in Progress. It is typically used as a time to highlight projects that are underway, illustrate the work that has been done and sometimes show off a finished product.

The cross in meaning of these acronyms has stayed with me and for some time now, I have been pondering ways in which I can use this similarity to bring attention to an issue I still hold so very dear. Recently I have had coversations with close friends and shared that I don't know if I could ever go back to the work I once did. Working to end violence against women is such an emotionally draining and passion sparking field that uses up a tremendous amount of energy. It is not just a job.

While I wonder if I could ever again give so much of my heart to an issue or a cause that is not raising and nurturing my family, there is the question of what to do with the part of my heart that has forever been given to those women... They are still there... Waiting. Although I chose to walk away from the work, I have yet to let go.

If you are interested in more information about these incredible women, or how to find women in your area that are in similar circumstances, please comment or email me and I will connect you with local resources. And make sure you come back to this space on Wednesdays in the future. My WIP updates won't be as pretty as others and they might not inspire you to pick up your knitting needles. But hopefully they will move you to dig a little deeper, say a quick prayer or find ways you can help.

No comments: